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John Mayberry and great part-time seasons

Posted by Andy on October 19, 2011

Check out a limited cross-section of some great part-time seasons. Here are seasons back to 1901 where 290 to 350 plate appearances, 15 to 17 homers, and an OPS+ of 125 to 130:

Player OPS+ PA HR Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
John Mayberry 130 296 15 2011 27 PHI 104 267 37 73 17 1 49 26 55 .273 .341 .513 .854 8739
Aramis Ramirez 130 342 15 2009 31 CHC 82 306 46 97 14 1 65 28 43 .317 .389 .516 .905 *5
Ryan Raburn 130 291 16 2009 28 DET 113 261 44 76 11 2 45 26 60 .291 .359 .533 .891 *793/8D5
Greg Norton 130 335 17 2006 33 TBD 98 294 47 87 15 0 45 35 69 .296 .374 .520 .895 D93/7
Dick Allen 130 339 15 1976 34 PHI 85 298 52 80 16 1 49 37 63 .268 .346 .480 .826 *3
Jerry Lynch 129 329 16 1964 33 PIT 114 297 35 81 14 2 66 26 57 .273 .328 .495 .823 *7
Jim Leyritz 128 293 17 1994 30 NYY 75 249 47 66 12 0 58 35 61 .265 .365 .518 .883 2D3
John Mayberry 128 344 17 1981 32 TOR 94 290 34 72 6 1 43 44 45 .248 .360 .452 .812 *3D
Chris Davis 127 317 17 2008 22 TEX 80 295 51 84 23 2 55 20 88 .285 .331 .549 .880 *35
Bob Horner 126 336 15 1981 23 ATL 79 300 42 83 10 0 42 32 39 .277 .345 .460 .805 *5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/18/2011.

John Mayberry has two such seasons--only it's not the same guy. One is from John Mayberry Sr (1981) and one is from John Mayberry Jr (2011).

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 at 7:05 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

60 Responses to “John Mayberry and great part-time seasons”

  1. What about Erubiel Durazo's 1999 and 2002 seasons?

  2. Oscar Gamble's 1979, split between the Yankees and the Rangers, was particularly brilliant: In 326 plate appearances, Oscar belted 19 homers with a .358 average and a 187 OPS+. Plus, the afro!

  3. Yeah, note that I limited this list by OPS+. The real point of the post was to show that the two Mayberrys had very similar seasons--there have been many part-time seasons that were even better than those on the list above.

  4. As soon as I saw this, I thought Art Shamsky, 1966.

  5. Andy, I did indeed notice your specific parameters. But it begs the question, who has had the highest HRs, OPS+, etc., with 290-350 PAs? Could be an interesting Top 20-or-so list! (And I bet Oscar Gamble is on it!)

  6. Andy-

    Off topic, but is there a way to search for the WS matchup that features the most career WAR by the starting pitchers? Both career-to-date and for that season? I'd be curious to use such a search to figure out what the "best" matchups were, even if the results didn't pan out.

  7. Top OPS+ for seasons with 290 < PA < 350:

    Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
    1 Mark McGwire 202 321 2000 36 STL 89 236 60 72 8 0 32 73 76 78 .305 .483 .746 1.229 *3/467
    2 Dick Wakefield 190 332 1944 23 DET 78 276 53 98 15 5 12 53 55 29 .355 .464 .576 1.040 *7
    3 Oscar Gamble 187 327 1979 29 TOT 100 274 48 98 10 1 19 64 50 28 .358 .456 .609 1.065 D79
    4 Justin Morneau 184 348 2010 29 MIN 81 296 53 102 25 1 18 56 50 62 .345 .437 .618 1.055 *3/D
    5 Jim Thome 178 340 2010 39 MIN 108 276 48 78 16 2 25 59 60 82 .283 .412 .627 1.039 *D
    6 Joe DiMaggio 178 329 1949 34 NYY 76 272 58 94 14 6 14 67 55 18 .346 .459 .596 1.055 *8
    7 Matt Williams 176 318 1995 29 SFG 76 283 53 95 17 1 23 65 30 58 .336 .399 .647 1.046 *5
    8 John McGraw 172 308 1901 28 BLA 73 232 71 81 14 9 0 28 61 7 .349 .508 .487 .995 *5
    9 Cliff Johnson 171 339 1977 29 TOT 107 286 46 85 16 0 22 54 43 53 .297 .407 .584 .991 7D32/9
    10 Wes Covington 170 324 1958 26 MLN 90 294 43 97 12 1 24 74 20 35 .330 .380 .622 1.003 *7
    11 Buddy Lewis 168 306 1945 28 WSH 69 258 42 86 14 7 2 37 37 15 .333 .423 .465 .888 *9
    12 Hank Greenberg 166 312 1945 34 DET 78 270 47 84 20 2 13 60 42 40 .311 .404 .544 .948 *7
    13 Rico Carty 163 339 1969 29 ATL 104 304 47 104 15 0 16 58 32 28 .342 .401 .549 .951 *7
    14 Bill Salkeld 163 317 1945 28 PIT 95 267 45 83 16 1 15 52 50 16 .311 .420 .547 .966 *2
    15 Ernie Lombardi 162 347 1942 34 BSN 105 309 32 102 14 0 11 46 37 12 .330 .403 .482 .886 *2
    16 Hubie Brooks 161 338 1986 29 MON 80 306 50 104 18 5 14 58 25 60 .340 .388 .569 .956 *6
    17 Jim Delahanty 159 323 1908 29 WSH 83 287 33 91 11 4 1 30 24 25 .317 .376 .394 .770 *4
    18 Jim Spencer 157 336 1979 32 NYY 106 295 60 85 15 3 23 53 38 25 .288 .367 .593 .960 *D3
    19 Augie Galan 157 348 1946 34 BRO 99 274 53 85 22 5 3 38 68 21 .310 .451 .460 .910 *753/89
    20 Frank Thomas 156 311 2004 36 CHW 74 240 53 65 16 0 18 49 64 57 .271 .434 .563 .997 *D/3
    21 George Selkirk 156 293 1937 29 NYY 78 256 49 84 13 5 18 68 34 24 .328 .411 .629 1.040 *9
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 10/19/2011.

  8. #6 there is no easy direct way to search for that but we might be able to find some things...give me a minute to search.

  9. Horner and Mayberry Sr. in strike-shortened 1981 weren't exactly "Part-time" seasons, although they meet your criteria numbers-wise.

  10. BSK, ok.

    Here are the top career WAR totals for pitchers who started at least 1 world series game:

    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/uDpTA
    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/hh10Z

    There are two lists because there are more than 300 such pitchers so I had to split it up into two searches.

    It's up to you to figure out the highest head-to-head matchup from these lists, though!

  11. Question: The text says "seasons back to 1901" but all the seasons listed in the post are from 1981-2011. So is the text wrong or were there really no seasons from 1901-1980 that met the criteria?

  12. The text is correct. There is a season as old as 1964 on that list.

  13. @11

    There were 2 from pre-1981...Allen and Lynch.

  14. Oops, clearly I didn't get enough sleep last night! Though it is odd that there were no such seasons from 1901-1963 and several since.

  15. Not sure how to search it, maybe someone can help. The two John Mayberrys made their MLB debuts 41 apart (Jr. was born after Sr. had already retired). Is this the longest gap between debuts for a father and son?

  16. Hadn't really realized how good John Mayberry Sr. was. Looking over his stats he was on a Hall of Fame path through age 26 and then his career took a sharp turn for the worse. Too bad.

    And BTW, how the heck did he get an MVP vote in 1976? A first baseman with .232/.322/.342. Seriously???

  17. @14,

    Because this list contains multiple search criteria, which are interrelated (HRs, PAs and OPS+) with narrow bands selected, there are large portions of baseball history where it would be practically impossible to qualify. e.g. during the dead ball era no one was hitting that many home runs, and if they were in that few plate appearances their OPS+ would be far too high to meet the search criteria. Similarly, during a very high offensive era a similar number of PAs and HRs might produce an OPS+ that is too low to qualify for this list.

    As Andy wrote @3, his point was to draw a comparison between the two John Mayberrys. And I think because of the narrow bands, the implied caveat is to not draw too much cosmic significance from the list, but to enjoy this interesting coincidence that he discovered while we await the start of the World Series.

  18. oneblankspace Says:

    John Mayberry (Sr.) also holds the distinction of being the first player to receive a Chris Berman nickname on ESPN.

  19. Eva, you da man...perfect explanation.

  20. Richard Chester Says:

    In 1950 Johnny Mize, then of the Yankees, had 305 PA, 25 HR, 72 RBI and 142 OPS+. He also had a 3-HR game, his 6th career-wise.

  21. Sorry Ms. Longoria. I meant Evan.

  22. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Bob Horner came within nine PAs of making this list twice: his rookie year {1978} was one amazing feat.

  23. @21,

    No worries, for the past 12 or so years I've been getting mass emails from the National Committee of one of the country's major political parties that start off "Dear Eva,..."

    Is it 8:05 PM yet?

  24. Quickly looking, I see Clemens and Schilling squared off in Game 7 of 2001. Unfortunately, Clemens did not start against RJ. RJ did face Pettite twice. Though their career WAR got higher after that series, all those guys were very well established by that point. I'll keep looking and see what else I come up with.

  25. Johnny Twisto Says:

    And BTW, how the heck did he get an MVP vote in 1976? A first baseman with .232/.322/.342. Seriously???

    My best argument for putting John Mayberry on the ballot: On 9/29, his second-inning single moved a runner from first to third. The runner subsequently scored, giving the Royals all they would need to beat the charging A's and clinch the division.

    He was also 7th in RBI.

    Seriously, that's all I got.

  26. @6 BSK, if you want to use that season's WAR, you can list all players with WAR >= some number (I chose 6.0), ordered by date, and then it's easier to find those that matched up in a World Series. I found only four:

    1985 Game 7, Tudor 7.5 v. Saberhagen 6.7 (total WAR 14. 2)
    2001 Game 1, Schilling 7.3, Mussina 6.5 (14.2)
    1991 Games 2 and 5, Glavine 7.4 v. Tapani 6.0 (13.4)
    1911 Game 2, Plank 6.1 v. Marquard 6.0 (12.1)

    Of course you might have a higher total with one player below 6.0, that's harder to look for. There were a few other years where two pitchers with WAR >= 6.0 were on opposing teams, but they didn't start against each other.

  27. Willie McCovey's rookie season also has to count among the great part-time seasons. Although he only had 192 ABs, he had OPS+ of 187 and earned enough notariety that he was voted NL Rookie-Of-The-Year. I didn't check, but I'd wager that no other ROY position player had as few ABs as Stretch.

  28. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @2/ Lee - Oscar Gamble:

    This may be kind of a dumb question, but it relates to the topic of this post concerning excellent partial seasons - how come Oscar Gamble almost never played a full season? He was obviously a very good hitter (lifetime 127 OPS+), but he had only one season where he qualified for the batting title, only five seasons total with 400+ PA, and only 8 out of 17 seasons with 100+ games played.

    I understand that he was a platoon hitter (six-to-one ratio of right-hand pitchers faced vs. left-hand pitchers faced, 4480 PA/ 717 PA), but his difference between righty and lefties was noticeable, but not extreme (.828/ .705 OPS+). Did they spot him only against lefties he could hit? Was he a mediocre OFer (he did play some CF his 1st couple years)? Injury-prone?

    Oscar Gamble doesn't belong in the HOF, but his Afro surely does.

  29. @26
    Game 1 of the 1905 WS. Mathewson (9.5 WAR) vs. Waddell (5.9 WAR). A WAR to end all WARs!

  30. @26 Johnny Twisto

    Yeah the RBI thing seemed like the best explanation to me as well. I realize that MVP voters tend to overrate RBIs as a whole but that seems pretty extreme. I'm assuming that it was a KC voter that put him on the ballot.

  31. @29, Hah, Waddell just missed my cut-off!

  32. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Ed, I checked and Mayberry batted with the second most runners on base in the AL that season. I had wondered if he at least hit particularly well with RISP or something, but that was not the case. He batted cleanup most of the season (which made sense considering his track record), before moving to 5th late in the year. He mostly batted behind Tom Poquette (.361 OBP), Amos Otis (.341), and George Brett (.377).

  33. @28, Lawrence -- I would rank the reasons for Gamble's low-ish career PA total as follows:

    -- Hit poorly overall in his first 4 MLB seasons -- 78 OPS+ and just 9 HRs in 852 PAs.

    -- Already pegged as a platoon player upon arrival, he got just 100 PAs against LHPs in his first 5 MLB seasons (over 1,000 PAs vs. RHPs), and did nothing to prove he could hit them (0 HRs). In essence, during this period it didn't matter whether his platoon splits were balanced; he already had the rap, and in his few chances he did nothing to disprove it.

    -- Very poor defender, based on dWAR and Strat-O-Matic ratings. :) Not a base-stealer.

    -- Crowded rosters, both in general (there was a lot more platooning in the '70s when most teams carried 10 pitchers) and on Gamble's specific teams. The 1979-84 Yankees had a lot of hitting talent. Even some of the bad teams he played on (like the '73 Indians) had a lot of young prospects. The Padres signed him for '78 but wound up with a very crowded OF -- Winfield an excellent year, leadoff man Gene Richards had a .381 OBP, young Jerry Turner was a productive part-timer (and also a LHB), they had George Hendrick for the first 2 months, etc.

    Gamble basically got all the playing time he reasonably "deserved," even if he didn't deserve to be strictly a platoon player.

  34. Another one that just missed the cutoff,
    Game 1 and 4 1968 WS, Gibson (11.9) vs McLain (5.9). That looks tough to beat.

  35. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @33/ John A. -
    Thanks; so, it looks like Gamble got a rep as a "platoon" player early on, and since more teams were in fact platooning then (with more position players on the roster), there was less reason to play him every day. Plus, his mediocre defensive play made him that much more likely to be platooned.

    At first, I thought his career pattern was unique, but then I noticed his #2 similar player was Cliff Johnson, who also was a pronounced platoon player, NEVER qualifying for the batting title, although he was an excellent hitter most of his career (125 OPS+).

    Despite all the logical explanations above, it still would have been interesting if just one year, a team played him 155+ games, to see what kind of numbers he would've piled up.

  36. Any list that includes John McGraw as a player is sweet.

    Even sweeter is that McGraw is the only player on the list
    to have an OBP higher than SLG%.

    Not completely unexpected since we speak of 1901, when
    Moses was still in short pants.

  37. Thanks to everyone who indulged my question. Looks like we've had some great pitching matchups in WS history, but they are more the exception than the norm. Which I guess should be expected!

  38. @35 Lawrence Arzin

    Bill James said that Cliff Johnson could have hit 500 homeruns if his career had been handled differently. Seems like a bit of hyperbole, but he did manage 196 in just under 4,000 at-bats. Had he gotten double the at-bats, it's not hard to imagine him making it to at least 400.

    BTW, I definitely miss platooning. Roenicke/Lowenstein, Iorg/Mulliniks, etc.

  39. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @38/ Ed: "@35 Lawrence Arzin
    Bill James said that Cliff Johnson could have hit 500 homeruns if his career had been handled differently..."

    Ed, I actually thought about that exact quote when I commented on Cliff Johnson - great minds think alike, ha ha ha!!

    "...BTW, I definitely miss platooning. Roenicke/Lowenstein, Iorg/Mulliniks, etc." -
    To tie this discussion back to its starting point - thank Tony LaRussa for 12-man pitching staffs, and the ever-shrinking bench. Although in practice, with so many minor-league affiliates close to the major league city, the "platooning" is often done by shuttling AAA (or is that AAAA?)players on and off the major-league roster.

  40. @39
    another reason why while I respect LaRussa, I don't like him.
    My favorite team ever had -
    Shamsky/Swoboda
    Kranepool/Clendenon
    Boswell/Weis
    Garrett/Charles

  41. Cliff Johnson was a born DH. Looking at his minor league stats, he really didn't do much the first 3 years, then started to take off. One gets the feeling he was held back by his defense, however. In only 426 games in the field (363 as a starter), he managed to post a career dWAR of -3.9. Given he was in the Astros system then and a lot of teams were running a lot (especially in the NL in the mid to late 70's), it's no wonder a catcher seen as a defensive laibility didn;t get much chance. But the man could hit.

  42. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @41/ LJF - it looks like the Astro's were hoping that Johnson would eventually develop into their regular catcher, but it wasn't going to happen.

    That doesn't explain we he never got 500 PA in a year when was entirely a DH/1Bman, or even 400 PA (only 4 times). I assume it was a platoon issue, same as Oscar Gamble.

  43. @39 Lawrence

    I actually wasn't familiar with the James' quote. I found it while I was googling something else about Johnson.

    Anyway, it seems the decline in platooning is due to two factors. One is the increased number of pitchers that teams carry (4 vs. 5 man rotations, closers who only throw one inning, pitch counts for starters etc). The other is free agency. No agent is going to let his client sign with a team in order to play part-time. That means less money for the client and the agent.

  44. @21: Nonono, Eva Mendes > Eva Longoria. Not even close.

  45. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @43 - Ed, I had never thought of free agency as contributing to the decline of platooning - good point. However, I'll point out that the large majority of players on most rosters at any give time are _not_ free agents, so that would not usually be a factor.

    I'm kind of surprised we haven't seem more utlity players who can pitch a little in relief, or vice versa, as it would free up a roster spot. The Red Sox tried that with Dave McCarty a few years ago (2003?). I guess the game has advanced far enough in its evolution that you can do one or the other (pitch or play a position), but not both at the same time.

  46. #44 If you want to play that game, then I'm gonna go all Eva Herzigova on your ass.

    Game, set, match.

    :)

  47. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'll agree with Mendes over Longoria. Herzigova's name seems familiar but I'll have to do some googling later to form an expert opinion.

  48. @45 Lawrence

    Actually now that I think about it, I think it works on a few different levels. One is what I already mentioned. When a player becomes a free agent, his agent is going to shop around for a team that will maximize his playing time. But I think there's another level...teams are reluctant to platoon a player in the first place because it risks losing that player further down the road. Plus, teams don't want to get a reputation for platooning because it may hurt their chances of signing players later on.

    I don't think it's a big effect...obviously the increased number of pitchers is a much bigger factor. But I do think that free agency plays at least some role in the decline of platooning.

  49. Johnny Blanchard 1961 > 21 homers in 275 PA

  50. LA-

    I've thought about that. Why doesn't a team stick Dontrelle Willis or Micah Owings at the end of the bench, use him in mop-up duty when need be, and toss him a bat in a pinch? Most teams' last hitters off the bench are pretty bad and most teams' last pitchers out of the pen are pretty bad. Roll them into one and save a roster spot!

  51. David Bilodeau Says:

    Art Shamsky in 1966 for the Reds. 21 hrs in less than 300 at bats.

  52. David Bilodeau Says:

    BSK... I have asked the same question several times... Owings has value as the 12th member of a staff with his bat alone. After all, how often does any manager trust the back of his bullpen in a close game, unless it's in extra innings?

  53. Richard Chester Says:

    @51

    Altogether there have been 20 occurrences of a player hitting more than 20 HRs in a season with 300 or fewer AB.

    The top 5 are:

    Mark McGwire......32
    Mark M cGwire.....29
    Glenallen Hill.........27
    John Mize..............25
    Jim Thome............25

  54. David Bilodeau Says:

    Carlton Fisk in 1975 had a terrific short season after coming back from Leron Lee sliding into his knee the year before.

  55. @ 50 That last guy on the bench with a weak bat almost certainly has a strong glove. He is the backup at catcher, an infielder good enough to play short, or an outfielder fast enough to play center. Your pitcher/pinch hitter would have next to no defensive worth, and little base running. I doubt their hitting ability off the bench would add much value to their poor pitching.

  56. Andy, thanks for that list @ #7.

    Interesting that 2010 Twins teammates Justin Morneau and Jim Thome were No. 4 and 5 on the list for best OPS+ in a season with 290-350 PAs. (Imagine how many games they would have won if Morneau had gotten 500 PAs!).

  57. Spindlebrook Says:

    Hard to believe that Kevin Maas hasn't been mentioned yet.

  58. Richard Chester Says:

    @57
    On my list in post #53 he was tied for 16th place.

  59. @39....yeah we've all had enough of LaRussa by now. And, I'm sure we'll be tired of liffetime Cardinal roooters Buck and McCarver soon enough.

    LaRussa gave us the 6-inning starter as a rule, the LH one-batter relief specialist, and the set-up guy for the set-up man. But even with a 12-man staff, teams can still platoon the OF and IF corners and catchers. This platooning on the corners would probably save an organization a ton of money at arbitration hearings and probably keep a lot of LH hitters out of slumps. Hell, facing RH pitching all the time even worked for Duke Snider

  60. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Shamsky's case {see #51 above} was obvious; he could hit like crazy, but as far as fielding, he couldn't catch a cold in a rainstorm.